U.S. removes Sudan from list of terrorism sponsors

Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, sits at a desk while flanked by two flags.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, in April 2019.
(Sudan TV / AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said Monday that the Trump administration has removed Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that could help the African country get international loans to revive its battered economy and end its pariah status.

The embassy said in a Facebook post that the removal of Sudan was effective as of Monday, and that a notification to that effect, signed by U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, would be published in the Federal Register. It said the 45-day congressional notification period had lapsed.

The designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism dates back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other wanted militants. Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.


De-listing Sudan is also a key incentive for the government in Khartoum to normalize relations with Israel. The two countries agreed to establish full diplomatic ties in a deal that made Sudan the third Arab state — after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — to move to normalize relations with Israel this year. After Sudan, Morocco also established diplomatic ties with Israel.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, hailed his country’s removal from the terrorism list as a “historic decision.” He tweeted Monday that it would “contribute to supporting the democratic transition” in the troubled nation.

Sudan is on a fragile transition to democracy following an uprising that led to the military’s ouster of former autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. The county is now ruled by a joint military and civilian government that seeks better ties with Washington and the West.

After Israel and Sudan agree last month to normalize ties, some 6,000 Sudanese migrants in Israel are again fearing for their fate.

Nov. 12, 2020

In October, Trump announced that he would remove Sudan from the list if it followed through on its pledge to pay $335 million to American terror victims and their families. Sudan has agreed to pay compensation for victims of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attacks carried out by Al Qaeda while Bin Laden was living in Sudan.

According to the October announcement, once the compensation money was deposited, Trump was to sign an order removing Sudan from the terrorism list on which it has languished under heavy American sanctions for 27 years.

Since Trump’s announcement, the Sudanese government also inked an agreement with the U.S. that could stop any future compensation claims being filed against Sudan in U.S. courts.


That deal restores in U.S. courts what is known as sovereign immunity to the Sudanese government. It would, however, enter into force only after Congress passes legislation needed to implement the agreement. Khartoum has said the $335 million in compensation money would be held in an escrow account until then.